Renuka Belwalker

Classical dancer Renuka Belwalker, of Lynbrook High School in San Jose, Calif., is among 691 young artists and one of over a dozen Indian American youngsters who have been honored by the YoungArts Foundation for 2017. (Renuka Belwalker/Facebook photo)

The National YoungArts Foundation announced Nov. 17 the names of 691 most promising young artists of the nation in the literary, visual, design and performing arts, and at least 18 Indian American high-school students are among the winners selected from 40 states. The 2017 winners are all in the age group of 15 -18 or are in grades 10 to 12.

Indian American talents who have been selected in the 2017 YoungArts competition include: Panteha Abareshi (finalist, visual arts); Priyanka Aiyer (finalist, writing/poetry); Renuka Belwalker (honorable mention, dance/classical Indian); Shreya Bhadriraju (finalist, voice/soprano); Samyuktha Hari (honorable mention, dance/classical Indian); Swathi Jaisankar (honorable mention, dance/classical Indian); Jahnavi Kalyan (merit, dance/classical Indian); Ananya Kumar-Banerjee (merit, writing/creative non-fiction); Nicholas Padmanabhan (merit, classical music/guitar); Isha Parupudi (honorable mention, dance/classical Indian); Nivedita Ravi (merit, voice/soprano); Avik Sarkar (merit, classical music/composition); Ravi Sharma (honorable mention, jazz/guitar); Santosh Sharma (honorable mention, jazz/tenor saxophone); Thalia Suri (honorable mention, visual arts); Priya Thomas (merit, writing/short story and finalist, writing/selection from novel); and Maya Tripathi (honorable mention, photography).

YoungArts Winners receive cash awards of up to $10,000, mentorship and training from acclaimed artists, opportunities to participate in YoungArts programs, and guidance in taking important steps toward achieving their artistic goals, according to a press release. It also added that these young talents, who represent the top 8.67 percent of applications, were selected through a blind adjudication process conducted by an independent panel of highly accomplished artists.

This year’s finalists have the opportunity to participate in the 36th annual National YoungArts Week in Miami from Jan. 8 to 15, 2017, where the artists across ten disciplines will participate in master classes and workshops with internationally recognized leaders in their field, including YoungArts Legacy Master Teachers artistic director, choreographer and dancer Bill T. Jones, and celebrated photographer Sylvia Plachy, among others.

Throughout the week, the finalists’ work will be further adjudicated to determine additional award levels.

All the winners join YoungArts’ expansive alumni network of leading professionals such as actors Viola Davis and Kerry Washington; musicians Conrad Tao and Jennifer Koh; and recording artists Josh Groban and Chris Young.

For more information, visit

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.